If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

Philip Larkin




the shout

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains
of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

from Walt Whitman, Song of myself

Pictures 183[1]



Enter the turret of your love, and lie
close in the arms of the sea; let in new suns
that beat and echo in the mind like sounds
risen from sunken cities lost to fear;
let in the light that answers your desire
awakening at midnight with the fire,
until its magic burns the wavering sea
and flames caress the windows of your tower.

from Denise Levertov, The Sea’s Wash In The Hollow Of The Heart



wild flower

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

From William Blake, Auguries of Innocence




The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,


and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.


by Derek Walcott




I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

from Walt Whitman, Song of myself

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 I was determined to make a significant   detour during  August to see some public sculpture on Crosby beach and this short piece gives me an opportunity to show off some of my photographs. The journey to Liverpool  was not in vain and  I was able to glimpse again at first hand the sheer genius of Gormley  as a sculptor and public artist.

Another place  consists (I believe 60)  cast iron sculptures of the artist’s own body, facing towards the sea. The original proposal was for the Wattenmeer, Cuxhaven, Germany in 1995 and here is the brief:

“To install a hundred solid cast iron bodyforms along the coast to the west and south of the Kugelbake. The work will occupy an area of 1.75 square kilometres, with the pieces placed between 50 and 250 metres apart along the tideline and one kilometre out towards the horizon, to which they will all be facing. Depending on the fall of the land, the state of the tide, the weather conditions and the time of day the work will be more or less visible. The sculptures will be installed on a level plane attached to 2 metre vertical steel piles. The ones closest to the horizon will stand on the sand, those nearer the shore being progressively buried. At high water, the sculptures that are completely visible when the tide is out will be standing up to their necks in water.”

The  cast  iron   body forms  were displayed  at several  locations  in Europe  but now have found  a permanent home  here  at Crosby beach .  the proposal to do so was controversial  but Sefton Council  in 2007   made a bold and imaginative decision  that would allow the sculptures to be kept permanently at Crosby Beach in place of being moved to New York.

Lt’s look  at some of these sculptures  more closely


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The sculptures are made from 17 body-casts taken from Gormley’s   body. The sculptures are all standing in a similar way, with the lungs more or less inflated and their postures carrying different degrees of tension or relaxation.  The                  installation  stretched 2.5 kilometres down the coast and 1 kilometre out to sea, with an average distance between the pieces of 500 metres. They were all on a level and those closest to the shore were buried as far as their knees.

The idea was to test time and tide, stillness and movement, and somehow engage with the daily life of the beach. This was no exercise in romantic escapism.  The  figures  themselves  have a  deep sense of serenity  and thoughtfulness   as they  stare out in the same direction  –  there is a kind of deep  connectedness and attentiveness .  Contemplation, attention  and focus   were the words  that came  most immediately  to mind  as I wandered up and down the beach.  The tide   was moving   swiftly in  and so it was fascinating  to see  some of the statues  being immersed  in water .

 Gormley remains  a master of public art  and I was quite extraordinarily moved by the way in which this art  evokes such a powerful sense both life and death ; of nature claiming  its extraordinary claim on   humanity and sometimes our  powerlessness over  the forces of nature and  perhaps even life itself? It is however  this stillness and contemplation  that I think  is the radical voice  of this work.

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